[Sainz: “Nothing is impossible” for Ferrari to beat Verstappen in Monza F1 race
Verstappen’s Red Bull squad has either missed pole or lost it to a grid penalty four times this year, but still retains a 100% winning streak as its RB19 package is particularly dominant in race trim.
The car’s relative qualifying weakness – it has nevertheless been taken to 10 poles via Verstappen and his team-mate Sergio Perez, who starts the Monza race in fifth – helped Ferrari pip Red Bull to pole for its home race, with Charles Leclerc also starting third in the Scuderia’s other SF-23.
When asked if he can realistically challenge Verstappen for the Italy victory on Sunday, Sainz replied: “I think it can happen.
“Nothing is impossible, especially starting from P1. If I get a good start, I’m going to do everything I can to stay ahead of Max.
“Looking back at this year, 100% of races, they’ve been quicker and they’ve been clearly quicker.
“So that makes me feel like it’s not going to be easy at all and they’re going to try a way past one way or another. But, you know, something could happen.
“We could also have a particularly good day and get the win.
“So, I’m just going to try, and go in open-minded, drive us as I want to win the race and then adapt to the circumstances and to the race pace of each car.”
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23
Photo by: Erik Junius
Sainz added that he and his squad posses “the motivation and the energy to [win]”, but he stressed the need to work with Leclerc to make Ferrari’s early race numerical advantage pay against Verstappen in terms of attacking moves and pitstop strategy.
“The car, it has been very good all weekend, especially over one lap,” Sainz explained. “From what I’ve seen through the long runs, I’m not going to lie, it’s trickier. It’s not the same picture as in quali.
“That Red Bull, as soon as you put five or six laps on the tyre, and everything starts to degrade a bit, it’s where they come. [With] their strengths, and the race pace that we’ve seen all year.
“But hopefully I can get a good start and then I can make Max and Checo [stay] behind, and Charles’ life, obviously, [make it all] as difficult as possible.
“But I think we will need to work well as a team and give it our best shot.
“I think it’s a good opportunity, but also being realistic, the Red Bull should be quicker. We’re just going to try and make their life as complicated as possible and try to take the win.”
There has not been a repeat Monza winner since Lewis Hamilton’s 2017 and 2018 victories – a statistic that has generated much attention in F1’s social media sphere in recent days.
But Sainz dismissed its significance, asking “Maybe you should ask Max? [as the 2022 Monza winner looking to make it two successive wins here]”.
“I don’t believe in statistics too much,” he added. “And these kind of how – do you call them, curses or whatever?
“I think on Sunday wins the one who deserves the most and normally the one who is quicker – unless something happens. And I’m just going to try to be that one.
“The faster one and the one that puts everything together and go in also trying to enjoy the day.
“Enjoy starting on pole in Monza with Ferrari. Good energy, good vibes. And then yeah, just enjoy myself out there, because it’s going to be fun.”